Roger Dubuis Will Add Another Brand

Roger Dubuis, one of the world’s most exclusive and expensive Swiss watch brands, plans to widen its market and increase production over the next two years, said president and chief executive officer Carlos Dias during an interview with JCK at the recent JCK Show in Las Vegas.

The watch firm “in the next two years will launch another brand and at a different, slightly lower price level,” Dias said. The brand’s price range now is $9,500 to $400,000, with the average sale around $30,000.

The firm produces only 28 of each new model it adds in its six collections of generally large watches, a limited-edition strategy designed to keep the brand exclusive. Production of the new brand, however, will increase to possibly 55 pieces of each new model. In addition, the firm—which designs, develops, fabricates, and assembles its own mechanical movements—might add a women’s line with quartz movements.

Roger Dubuis is sold in major markets on six continents, and Dias says it has a waiting list of potential distributors in 24 countries. He expects the firm’s distribution and revenues to “continue going up” in the next few years. “The potential is big,” he says.

Yesterday and today. The Geneva, Switzerland, firm was started in 1995 by master horologist Roger Dubuis, formerly with Swiss luxury brand Patek Philippe, and Dias, a successful Portuguese businessman, clothing designer, and watch collector. Their goal was to create “watches of today, inspired by the past, but not bound to it.” Within a year, they produced their first collections, “Hommage” (round) and “Sympathie” (square-cambered).

Since then, they’ve added four more collections—”MuchMore,” with rectangular curved case; “TooMuch,” with rectangular curved case on a double strap; “GoldenSquare,” with square case; and this year’s FollowMe, enameled and dual-time-zone timepieces with a Swiss-cross-shaped curved case on a double strap. The company also has produced nine calibers, including a flying tourbillon with large date, one of three produced this year. Each caliber is stamped with the Poinçon de Genève hallmark, given only to movements assembled and finished in Geneva according to strict quality requirements.

The brand entered the U.S. market in 1999, and business has increased annually since, says Dias. It’s sold by 20 high-end jewelry retailers (25 doors), and is distributed by Helvetia Time, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., also the site of its North American service and repair center.

Ongoing growth. Because of its success and continuing growth, the watchmaker moved in 2002 into a new facility in Meyrin-Satigny, just outside Geneva. The 9,843-sq.-ft. building houses state-of-the-art micro-mechanical equipment for producing watch movements, plus workshops for complications and research and development. The facility also accommodates the brand’s administrative departments.

The company doesn’t release revenue or production figures, but Dias said annual revenues have increased 125% over the past five years. He also said the company produces “a few thousand” watches per year. The firm, which started with one employee in 1995, now has 180 and expects to double that in the next two to three years.

The brand is growing and changing in other ways, too. It unveiled a new worldwide ad campaign this summer, which “associates the brand with a lifestyle image,” said Dias, and has launched its own network of boutiques. Since December 2002, it has opened three—in Geneva, Paris, and Dubai—and plans to open one or two in the United States within three to four years.